Evidence-based information and informed choice
My doctor said … So I guess I’ll have to do it, even if I don’t really want to, because I don’t have any other choice. Or do I?
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard parents say things like:
“My doctor said I have to stop breastfeeding due to a certain (breastfeeding-safe) medication.”
Not only was it a breastfeeding safe medication to begin with, but they had the mother wean without even discussing another alternative. Just as a reminder, most medications are usually safe to use when breastfeeding and most of the time there is an alternative should it be needed.
“My baby’s nurse said I have to start my 4-month-old baby on solids because they’re a big baby and they’re hungry.”
There is absolutely no research to prove that bigger babies need solids sooner. In fact, the research proves that nothing, but breastmilk or formula is needed in the first 6 months of life and even after that, they’ll only need a small amount at first.
“My speech therapist said there’s absolutely no difference in breastfeeding and bottle feeding.”
This is not true at all, breastfeeding and bottle feeding are not the same at all, it works the facial muscles in completely different ways. Research has also shown that breastfeeding is actually beneficial for facial development.
Have you ever been told something absurd or something that might be against recommendations and evidence? Have you ever received information from a healthcare professional who refused to ellaborate on the matter or discuss any alternatives? It’s infuriating to say the least. When we pay for medical care, we expect to receive only the best from the healthcare team that we chose and trust.
Healthcare professionals are wonderful assets to our lives, and we absolutely need them for many different reasons. This is something no one can deny. But do all of them always give current and evidence-based information? Unfortunately, no. Do some of them sometimes give outdated information and biased information based on personal opinion? Sadly, yes.
So what is your right when it comes to your or your family’s healthcare? Well, it’s simple, you have the right to receive evidence-based information when available, so that you can together with your healthcare professional make an informed choice that works best for you and your family.
What is evidence-based information?
Evidence-based information is exactly that, information based on the best available clinical evidence together with the clinician’s expertise on the specific subject and what the patient wants, not just one of these, but all of them combined to give the best possible care to you and your family.
When a healthcare provider provides you with information on a specific matter or treatment, it should always include the risks, the benefits, and any alternatives there may be. You don’t have to accept treatments that you don’t feel comfortable with. There is almost always an alternative to most treatments, should you feel the need to rather go with the alternative option.
Once you have all of this information, you can then make an informed choice. Not your healthcare provider, you. It’s your choice to make. They may inform you, they may guide and support you, but the decision will always lie with you.
What is an informed choice?
An informed choice is when you can make a decision that’s best for you and your family, based on all the information you have received.
You are allowed to question your healthcare provider, you are allowed to ask them to provide you with the evidence to back the information and treatments they give to you, and you are in charge of the decisions made. If you’re ever in doubt about anything, talk to your healthcare provider, and if they don’t want to provide you with the information that you want, get a second opinion.
It’s important to remember that not all cases and treatments will always have evidence based information or research available, and sometimes it may not be fit for a special case, sometimes it’s important to go on what’s best for you individually. Always discuss this with any of your healthcare providers, let them know you expect the very best care and not opinions or any bias. Let them know that when possible, you’d prefer the best evidence based approach.
While we’re on the topic of healthcare providers, why don’t we take a quick look at interdisciplinary teams, what it is and why it matters.
What is an interdisciplinary team?
An interdisciplinary team is when different healthcare professionals from different disiplines come together to work as a team on a specific case. They come together and work together by setting the same goal, making decisions together and sharing the responsibility. Each bringing their own field of expertise.
A good example of this would be a baby born with a cleft lip or palate:
The baby will need their peaditrician for overall care, a plastic surgeon/ENT for surgical repair of the cleft, a speech therapist for help with things like swallowing, oral and speech development support, a lactation consultant for breastfeeding support, and there may be even more members a part of this team.
You see how completely different healthcare professionals come together as a team for a much bigger picture? How each of them plays a role in treating the same patient?
So, when you need specific help with things, there may be a specific specialist who will be able to help you best.
Some examples of healthcare providers and what they specialize in includes:
General practitioner (GP)
A general practitioner (GP) is a doctor who specializes in family medicine. They will be able to help you with overall healthcare needs.
A pediatrician is a doctor who specializes in the health of children.
Speech-language pathologists (SLP)
A speech-language pathologist (SLP) specializes in human communication, it’s development and its disorders and any swallowing difficulties or oral development issues.
International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC)
An International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) is a health professional who specializes in the clinical management of breastfeeding.
Registered dietician (RD)
A registered dietician (RD) is a health professional who specializes in all dietary and nutritional needs.
There are of course many more health professionals, each uniquely suitable to offer you the help that you may need.
It’s important for you and your family to know your rights and what you deserve and knowing that you are in charge of the decisions made on your health and that you can and should advocate for what you know you deserve. Never stop advocating for yourself.
Resources and additional information: